Japanese cruiser Atago

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Japanese cruiser Atago in 1939.jpg
Imperial Japanese Navy cruiser Atago in 1939
Career (Japan) Naval Ensign of Japan.svg
Name: Atago
Namesake: Mount Atago
Operator: Imperial Japanese Navy
Ordered: 1927 fiscal year
Builder: Yokosuka Navy Yard
Laid down: 28 April 1927
Launched: 16 June 1930
Commissioned: 30 March 1932
Fate: Torpedoed by American submarines, 23 October 1944
General characteristics
Class & type: Takao-class heavy cruiser
Displacement: 9,850 long tons (10,010 t) (standard)
14,616 long tons (14,851 t) (full load)
Length: 668 ft 6 in (203.76 m)
Beam: 59–68 ft (18–21 m)
Draft: 20 ft (6.1 m) (standard)
20.7 ft (6.3 m) (full load)
Installed power: 133,100 shp (99,300 kW)
Propulsion: 4 × geared steam turbines
12 × Kampon boilers
4 × shafts
Speed: 34.2–35.5 kn (63.3–65.7 km/h; 39.4–40.9 mph)
Range: 8,500 nmi (15,700 km; 9,800 mi) at 14 kn (26 km/h; 16 mph)
Complement: 773
Armament: Original Layout: 10 × 8 in (200 mm) guns (5x2)
4 × 4.7 in (120 mm) dual purpose guns (4x1)
2 × 40 mm (1.57 in) anti-aircraft guns (2x1)
60 × 25 mm (0.98 in) anti-aircraft guns
4 × 13.2 mm (0.520 in) anti-aircraft machine guns
8 × 24 in (610 mm) torpedo tubes (4x2)
depth charges
Armor: Belt: 1.5–5 in (3.8–12.7 cm)
Deck: 1.375 in (3.493 cm) (main, max); .5–1 in (1.3–2.5 cm) (upper)
Bulkheads: 3–4 in (7.6–10.2 cm)
Turrets: 1 in (2.5 cm)
Aircraft carried: 3 × floatplanes (1 × Aichi E13A1 "Jake" and 2 × Mitsubishi F1M2 "Pete"s)
Aviation facilities: 2 × catapults

Atago (愛宕?) was one of four Takao-class heavy cruisers, designed to be an improvement over the previous Myōkō-class design. These ships were fast, powerful, and heavily armed. The Takao-class ships were approved under the 1927 fiscal year budget as part of the Imperial Japanese Navy's strategy of the Decisive Battle, and would form the backbone of a multipurpose long range strike force. Atago was built by the Kure Naval shipyards near Hiroshima, and - like all heavy cruisers - was named after a mountain: in this case Mount Atago, located outside Kyoto.

Service history[edit]

At the start of the Pacific War, Atago was the flagship of Vice Admiral Kondō Nobutake's Cruiser Division 4, along with sister ships Maya, Chōkai, and Takao, and assigned to support the invasion of Malaya and the Philippines.

From January–March 1942, Atago was based out of Palau, and was involved in operations to seize the oil-rich Dutch East Indies, participating in numerous combat operations, including the Battle of the Java Sea.[1] After taking Vice Admiral Kondō on an inspection tour of Japan’s new possessions in the former Dutch East Indies, Atago returned to Yokosuka in April 1942, where she was assigned to the unsuccessful pursuit of Admiral William F. Halsey's Task Group 16.2 (TG 16.2) after the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo.

After a retrofit in April 1942 to replace her single 4.7 in (120 mm) dual purpose guns with new dual 5 in (130 mm) dual purpose guns, Atago departed for the Battle of Midway, where she was used to escort the transports ferrying the invasion force. She returned from the battle unscathed.

Guadalcanal campaign[edit]

On 7 August 1942, Atago was reassigned south to Truk, from which it made numerous sorties in the defense of Guadalcanal through December. Atago also participated in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons (24 August), Battle of Santa Cruz Islands (26–27 October) and in the Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal (15 November).[1] On 25 August, during the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, aircraft from the American aircraft carrier USS Wasp shot down two of Aichi E13A1 "Jake" floatplanes from Atago that were engaged in reconnaissance missions, killing all four aircrew members in the two aircraft.[2] During the latter battle, in a night gun duel with the American battleships USS South Dakota and Washington, Atago and Takao hit South Dakota with seventeen 8 in (200 mm) rounds, five 6 in (150 mm) and one 5-inch. Battleship Kirishima also hit South Dakota with a single 14 in (360 mm) round that exploded on her aft No. 3 turret's barbette.

South Dakota was damaged, but not sunk. Early in the battle, Atago and Takao each launched eight Type 93 "Long Lance" torpedoes at Washington but they all missed. Atago was damaged slightly as a result of the action, and returned to Kure for repairs on 17 December.

In January 1943, Atago returned to Truk to continue Japanese efforts to hold the Solomon Islands, and eventually to support the evacuation of Guadalcanal. She remained based out of Truk through July 1943, when she returned to Yokosuka for further refits and modifications to add two triple-mount Type 96 25 mm (0.98 in) anti-aircraft guns.

Later battles[edit]

From August–November 1943, Atago returned to Truk to continue her sorties supporting Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands. In response to the Allied landings on Bougainville on 1 November 1943, Atago and several other Japanese cruisers were sent to Rabaul to prepare to attack the Allied landing forces. On 5 November, while refueling at Rabaul, Atago′s task force was attacked by 97 planes from the carriers USS Saratoga and Princeton. Atago sustained three near-misses by 500 lb (230 kg) bombs that killed 22 crewmen, including her skipper Captain Nakaoka who was hit by a bomb splinter while on the bridge. On 15 November, Atago returned to Yokosuka for repairs, and installation of a Type 22 surface-search radar set, along with additional 25 mm anti-aircraft guns.

In January 1944, Atago returned to Truk. On 10 February, the cruiser force was attacked by the American submarine USS Permit in a night surface attack, but she missed with four torpedoes. Atago was then reassigned to CruDiv 4 based in Palau under Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa's First Mobile Fleet. The cruiser force was unsuccessfully attacked by the submarine USS Dace on 6 April.

On 13 June, Atago was in the Battle of the Philippine Sea, which resulted in disastrous losses in air strength for the Imperial Japanese Navy. Atago was undamaged from this battle. On 22 June, Atago retired with the remnants of the fleet via Okinawa to Kure, where in a final refit, a Type 13 air-search radar set was installed, along with further bolstering of her anti-aircraft armament, with four triple- and 22 single-mount 25 mm AA guns were bringing her total to 60.

Sinking in the Battle of Leyte Gulf[edit]

From July–October 1944, Atago was flagship of Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita's First Mobile Striking Force, which comprised the major remaining surface force of the Imperial Japanese Navy. The force consisted of seven battleships, 11 heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, and 19 destroyers, and was based at Lingga Roads near Singapore. The force sortied on 22 October in what would be the last major naval engagement of the war, the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Atago served as flagship for what the allies termed the Center Force, and was a part of CruDiv 4, along with Chōkai, Takao and Maya. The next day two submarines that had been shadowing the force attacked in the Palawan Passage. Atago was one of the ships hit. Four torpedoes fired from the submarine USS Darter struck the Atago, setting her ablaze. She capsized at 05:53 in about 1,800 m (5,900 ft) of water at 09°28′N 117°17′E / 9.467°N 117.283°E / 9.467; 117.283.

Of Atago’s crewmen, there were 529 survivors, including Vice Admiral Kurita, but 360 were killed. CoS Rear Admiral Tomiji Koyanagi and Atago’s skipper Rear Admiral Araki and 355 crewman were rescued by Kishinami; 171 others were rescued by Asashimo.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b L, Klemen (1999–2000). "Vice-Admiral Nobutake Kondo". Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941-1942. 
  2. ^ Lundstrom, John B. (2005). First Team And the Guadalcanal Campaign: Naval Fighter Combat from August to November 1942 (New ed.). Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-472-8. , p. 159.

Books[edit]

  • D'Albas, Andrieu (1965). Death of a Navy: Japanese Naval Action in World War II. Devin-Adair Pub. ISBN 0-8159-5302-X. 
  • Dull, Paul S. (1978). A Battle History of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1941-1945. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-097-1. 
  • Lacroix, Eric; Linton Wells (1997). Japanese Cruisers of the Pacific War. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-311-3. 

External links[edit]

See also[edit]

Atago class destroyer DDG-177 Atago (commissioned 2007)